The jobs market may have improved but there is still often tough competition for the top roles. It’s a horrible feeling to miss out on a job that you really wanted so we’ve put together these tips to help you stand out as the best candidate and secure your ideal position.
1. Be clear about what it is that you want
This might sound obvious but it’s surprising the number of people who are looking for a new role without really being clear about what an ideal position looks like. If you’re unhappy in your current role, or unemployed, then any job probably seems like a better option but it makes sense to think through what you’re seeking in your next role, and what factors are important to you in terms of job satisfaction.
What level of responsibility are you looking for? What salary do you need? What length of commute would you be happy with? What sort of company do you want to work for? Knowing what are deal breakers for you, and the elements you’d be willing to compromise on, will help you identify what constitutes an ideal position for you and that’s a key first step in being able to secure it!
2. Be organised
When you’re actively job seeking it can be hard to keep track of which jobs you’ve applied for, from which job boards and with which recruiters. This is why it’s crucial to stay organised as there’s nothing more off-putting for a recruiter or company than speaking with a candidate who sounds unsure of whether they’ve applied for a particular role or not. They naturally want to feel like the role they’re calling to talk to you about is the most important one on your radar.
Keep a spreadsheet to record your applications including details such as job title, date applied, where you applied for it, name of the recruiter/hiring manager/company including whatever contact information was supplied and a column to list the status of the application e.g. awaiting feedback, rejected, first interview etc. This will also help you to identify which opportunities you need to follow up with if you haven’t received any feedback by a certain point.
3. Develop good relationships
They say it’s who you know, not what you know and that’s why it’s important to develop relationships with people who can help you land your ideal job. This can include recruiters, people within companies you’d like to work for, people you’ve previously worked with, people in your industry, those you studied with etc.
When you’re busy it can be easy to lose touch with people but social media can help you stay connected. First of all look to reignite any existing relationships you have. Don’t come straight out and ask if they can help you secure a new job. Either drop them a note saying it’s been a while and ask how they are and what they’re up to or comment on something they’ve posted online / share something with them that you think would be of interest. You can then look for other relevant people to connect with. Again, keep your initial outreach friendly, rather than going straight in with ‘can you help me get a new job?’ You should also look for opportunities to develop relationships offline, such as at industry events.
In terms of building good relationships with recruiters the key is regular and honest communication. Let them know what you’re looking for, what your current situation is, what interviews you’re going on etc. Also make sure you respond as soon as you can to any opportunities they present to you. If you’re going to be unavailable for a prolonged period of time then let them know this in advance so they don’t think you’re no longer interested in a new role.
4. Have a strong online presence
If you’re looking for a new job you need to make sure you can be found online and are saying things that portray you in a positive way. Complete your profile information on all social sites you’re on so that you’ll be returned in any recruiter searches. Also do a Google search of yourself to see what’s returned and if there’s anything that needs removing, or privacy settings that need altering.
You want to refrain from bad mouthing your current employer and having any inappropriate photos visible to someone you’re not connected with. Instead you should be looking to share industry insights, blogging about relevant issues, commenting on existing blogs etc. These things will make you look like you take an active interest in your career and are knowledgeable on current news.
5. Tailor your CV
Use the job description to make sure that your CV clearly details that you have the skills that this role requires. It will also help you to prioritise the order that you show these skills in and whether there are elements that you can remove for this opportunity. You don’t need a completely new CV for each role you apply to, but you should tweak your master copy so that the recruiter can see quickly what a great fit you are for this position. This is especially important for CVs that go through ATS systems as they’ll be looking for certain keywords, often ones that are mentioned in the job advert.
You should also make sure that your CV contains quantified achievements, rather than a list of responsibilities e.g. increased profitability by 24% over the fiscal year.
6. Do your research
Some people save this for the interview stage but it’s important before then. Doing your research about a company will help you determine whether it’s one that you’d like to work for, and if it is then you can use it in your cover letter to help you stand out.
There’s some debate about whether cover letters are necessary anymore but why miss out on an additional opportunity to sell yourself? In this short note you can detail why you’re excited about the role and why you think you’d be good at it. This is where you can draw on some insights you’ve found from your research.
7. Clearly demonstrate why you’re the strongest candidate
If you’ve made it to the interview stage then now is your ultimate chance to shine. Through your research and the job description (plus your conversations with the recruiter if this is how you found the job) you should have an idea of why this vacancy has been created and what the company needs from this person. Use these insights to prepare examples of your experience which showcase that you can provide what they need.
There’s nothing worse in an interview than being at a loss to offer an example of where you’ve demonstrated a particular required skill or behaviour so doing some thorough preparation before should help ensure that this doesn’t happen.
8. Follow up
If you’re working with a recruiter make sure to feedback quickly on how the interview went and on any areas where you feel that you may not have come across as well as you would have liked. They can pass this on to the employer when they’re speaking with them and it might help to overcome any potential doubts or questions they had about you. If you found the job directly with the employer then be sure to send a concise thank you email which reiterates your interest in the role. Where possible reference something that was said in the interview, for example; “It sounds like an exciting time to join the company with the recent acquisition of X, and I would relish the opportunity to help you achieve your growth plans.”
Hope this advice has proved helpful. Best of luck in getting a great new job!
Written by Financial Staffing Solutions, specialist financial recruiters covering all accountancy and financial roles. If you’re looking for a new position within this sector, or need to hire a finance professional, then get in touch:
020 8532 2644
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